Grape Masterclass
Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale: The Powerful Sweet DOCG Of Puglia

Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale: The Powerful Sweet DOCG Of Puglia


Puglia is mostly famous for its fresh rosè and bold red wines. However, you can drink here 1 of the 11 Italian DOCGs entirely devoted to making sweet treasures: Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale DOCG.

In this case, this is even more important as a specific denomination has been created to differentiate the higher quality of this sweet wine. In fact, the dry style Primitivo di Manduria doesn’t boast the DOCG status.

Are you ready to discover the characteristics of the grape variety, its sweet wines, and our best recommendation?

The Grape

Primitivo is a grape variety widely cultivated in the south of Italy and California, where they call it Zinfandel. In this paragraph, we usually discuss the origins of the variety.

However, we truly believe that Primitivo’s origins deserve an article on its own. There you can find this as well as the story behind the “Zinfandel battle” fought between Americans and Italians.

Typical Puglia's vineyards
Figure 1: Typical Puglia’s vineyards (, 2020)

Viticultural Characteristics

  • Mid ripening.
  • Very productive.
  • Better suited to lower-fertility and well-drained soils.
  • Zinfandel bunches are medium to large and compact. There is often an inconveniently wide range of ripeness of the berries of a single bunch.
  • Primitivo has more bunches but fewer and smaller berries.
  • Medium to high acidity levels.
  • Medium to high tannin levels.
  • High alcohol content.
  • Full-bodied wine.
  • Very famous in southern Italy, California, and Dalmatia (Croatia).

The wine shows the whole range of primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas. The first sniff will display overripe fruit such as sour cherries and blackberries. However, our humble experience has proven that the common trait of this sweet wine is an intense ripe plum aroma. Tertiary scents of chocolate, tobacco, and spices will show up when the wine opens up. The palate is unmistakable. Full-bodied with a warm, smooth, sweet, and satisfying mouthfeel with extremely long persistence.

The DOCG, Its Styles, And The Best Producers

Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale got its DOCG status in 2011. Since 1974, it’s been a DOC. You can understand how long they have been trying to get the highest recognition of the Italian hierarchy.

Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale is a monovarietal sweet wine whose structure is 100% Primitivo grape.

Once again, this DOCG is entirely devoted to sweet wines.

These are the Wine Jokers’ recommendations:

An outstanding pairing, Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale and chocolate
Figure 2: An outstanding pairing, Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale and chocolate (, 2018)


The best way to taste a great Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale is to directly meet the few producers who make it.

You will discover so many interesting stories that, added to the powerful taste of the sweet DOCG, will make you fall in love with the wine. Knowing how to speak Italian might help a lot in these circumstances, but the experience wouldn’t be ruined if you didn’t. Everyone is very friendly, and we are sure winemakers would be willing to open up the door of their cellars without hesitating too much.

There is nothing left to do. You only need to taste this dark sweet wine comparable to the best Montefalco Sagrantino Passito and Recioto della Valpolicella wines.

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